Blog,  Jax,  Writing

I Didn’t Take A Picture

This past Friday, my son, Jax, and I went to the park. It was early, around 9am, and we were the only ones there. It was quiet and calm, a complete contrast to our typical park visits. Jax was free to run up and down the play structure that, in his head, was now an aircraft, parachute-jump off the swings, and yell to the control tower. He was laughing, smiling, singing made-up songs about Han Solo.

His joy was palpable. I could see it, I could feel it. My kid was back.

How did I miss this?

Of course, I knew that he’d been getting better. We started a new treatment, a treatment we are unbelievably fortunate to get our hands on, and (knock on wood) it seems to be working. My son’s tics have decreased, we’re leaving the house again, Jax has been showing up to school for an hour or two at a time. It’s a big deal.

But the joy. The joy has always been the essence of my kid. He won’t wow you with his eloquence, team sports certainly aren’t his gift, but when’s he’s happy, it’s contagious. This joy has been missing for a while, on an unwelcome hiatus caused by a medical issue.

But here it was, his joy was right in front of me. I hadn’t noticed its return, but here it was. I wanted a photo or a video, I wanted to capture this. My phone was already in my hand.

My phone was already in my hand.

How did I miss this? This is how. Right here, this little contraption that lives in my right hand, or at its very furthest, the outside pocket of my purse. My phone.

Sometimes it’s necessary. An important work email, a doctor’s call, a quick text asking our sitter to please, pretty please pick up toilet paper and grapes on the way over, a therapist confirming a session, an insurance battle.

But an awful lot of the time, it’s an internet search for workout clothes I’ll never buy, a text about my inability to stop eating chocolate covered cranberries, Facebook, a coupon from the Container Store, the weather when I’m already outside.

In yoga, the hands are extensions of the heart. If this is true, my heart ends at my iPhone.

I missed the return of my son’s joy because I’m always looking down at my phone. I didn’t need a picture of my happy kid on the playground, I needed to be present with my happy kid on the playground. I put my phone away. Not in the easily-reachable outside pocket, but inside, zipped away, out of my immediate reach.

I sat and did nothing but watch my son. Without my phone, he was the only show on the stage. His laughter was not background noise to a google search, but sweet and musical. His monologue about crash-landing the play structure airplane was not interrupting a voicemail, but creative and impressively imaginative. It was a really good show. Why am I missing this show?

In yoga, the hands are extensions of the heart. If this is true, my heart ends at my iPhone.

On the way out of the park, on the way to the car, there was a huge grouping of birds on the ground to our right. Jax took off running at full speed towards them. As he approached them, the birds started to take flight, hundreds of them, flapping their wings and squawking, loudly taking to the air. Jax stopped, looked up at the flying cloud of birds, and reached his arms up towards them. His laughter, louder even than the birds, shook his entire body.

If the hands are extensions of the heart, my kid’s heart was wide open, full of joy, and pointed towards the sky. I could have missed this. I, so easily, could have missed this, and this feels important.

I want the image of my son standing in the grass, laughing, arms overhead against a backdrop of rising birds to stay with me. I need to remember this image.

Because I didn’t take a picture of it.


Rebecca Masterson is a writer, speaker, and an advocate for children. For more from Rebecca, like her page on Facebook or follow her on Instagram.